Most of us know that volunteering is a great way to get a lift, but many researchers are discovering that volunteering actually has measurable benefits to our overall health and well-being. This week, we are doing a three-part series, sharing the highlights from a recent study conducted by VolunteerMatch and UnitedHealthcare entitled, “Do Good Live Well.”

Today we are going to look at the impact of volunteering on physical health.

In the above study, 68% of participants agreed that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier, with 27% reporting that volunteering has been helpful in managing a chronic illness. Volunteers are more likely to feel in control of their own health, compared to those who do not participate in volunteer activities.

Although few differences are seen in the presence or types of chronic medical conditions between volunteers and non-volunteers, those who are serving regularly report a better ability to handle the challenges that come with medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma.

Volunteering does appear to correspond to a healthier BMI, with a significantly lower proportion of volunteers in the study identified as obese. Overall, volunteers seem to be more content with their physical condition, particularly when compared to others their age.

So here’s to your health, and keep volunteering!